Every Monday, we email a Family Memo to our families that contains all the updates and upcoming events.
Check out our weekly Family Memo here: Click Here
To see previous Family Memos: Click Here
Hi AF Families,
We hope your week is off to a great start! Join us on Thursday, 2/25 for our Monthly Family Town Hall Meeting.
Hi AF Families,
In honor of Black History Month and those that have devoted their rights to voting rights–Achievement First Advocacy will be partnering with New York Charter Schools Association, Uncommon, KIPP, C3S & Democracy Prep for a night of civic empowerment. Did you know that there is a new system for elected NYC’s Mayor, Borough Presidents, City Council Members & Comptroller? Join us to know how the voting system works, how to register to vote, and how to make your voices heard. We will have remarks from NYS Senator Leroy Comrie and a presentation from Rank the Vote NYC! Register by 02/23 at https://forms.gle/BuxZh1hwr7eHRjyG9. This event is open to the public so please share. *Please note that we will be working with our partners to host this event in Spanish within the next few weeks and will be providing detailed information soon.
Dear AF New York Team & Family,
We hope this note finds you, your families, and your scholars safe and well!
We are reaching out to share an update on our thinking around reopening schools in New York and particularly to share the criteria we will use to make reopening decisions in our New York region. Two principles have guided all of our reopening decisions this year: 1) safety and 2) meeting the needs of our scholars and families. The safety of our scholars, staff, and families remains the #1 factor in our reopening decisions. This has not – and will not – change.
In the interest of transparency and clarity for our entire community, we are sharing the high-level headlines up top and then more detailed answers to the most common questions we are getting below. To watch our video explaining this, click HERE:
See below for answers to some more detailed FAQs. We share all of this with the goal of giving you transparent insight into how we are approaching these challenging decisions. We know that each of you has different thoughts, reactions, and emotions surrounding reopening and we want to honor those. This is an incredibly complicated and challenging situation. And, we know that there are a number of racial dynamics at play (e.g., disparate impact of COVID illness and COVID school closure along racial lines, varying levels of comfort with vaccinations across racial lines, varying levels of concern about COVID based on personal/family experience). As the people tasked with making these difficult decisions, we are doing our best to honor the data and the science, listen to the multiple perspectives of our staff and families, understand the human impact of all of it, and use our values to guide our decision making.
Thank you SO much for your partnership as we continue to navigate the challenges of this year together.
Dacia Toll (CEO), Richard Buery (President), and Stephanie Keenoy (Superintendent)
Q: On what timeline are we making reopening decisions?
A: We commit to making a region-specific, final decision about our March reopening by Monday, February 22 based on the most current data about COVID spread in our communities.
Q: If we are not ready to reopen on March 9, when will we next try to reopen?
A: given the timing of Spring Break in NY, if we do not meet the reopening criteria by 2/22, we will push back our NY in-person start date to 4/19; if this happens, we will only have 1 chapter for the remainder of the year (4/19-6/25).
Q: Why did we not set specific criteria earlier in the year and only do so now? Will this criteria remain over time?
A: Throughout this year, we’ve wanted (and attempted) to set criteria for reopening to provide clarity and transparency to our entire team. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough information in the fall to determine what appropriate rates were for reopening given the low availability of data at that time (given that many fewer schools in fewer communities were open for learning, data was not readily available at that time.) Indeed, research is still underway on this topic which is why the criteria will likely change over time. On Friday, Dr. Ompad (an epidemiologist and public health expert at NYU) shared multiple times that the virus is changing and we are learning more about the virus. It would be inadvisable to use the same criteria now that we will use in June or September. As we learn more, our criteria will definitely change…and we will communicate that transparently to you.
Q: Why did we set 1 criteria for all school levels vs. separate criteria for elementary, middle, and high schools?
A: While some host districts have made different decisions by grade level, we heard from the medical experts we consulted that there is not strong enough evidence (for now, at least) to suggest significant differences in risk for ES/MS/HS. That is why we have adopted 1 set of criteria K-12 and grounded this standard conservatively to err on the side of safety.
Q: Do the decisions made by our host districts impact this decision?
A: We have set our own AF-specific reopening criteria which are NOT guided by our host districts / anyone else. We originally started this year believing that we would follow the lead of our host districts in making these complex decisions. However, as the year progressed, we were concerned about some of the decisions our host districts were making and opted instead to be more conservative and to remain remote, in almost all cases, for longer. At this point, none of our districts are offering the clarity of standard/criteria that we want – and many of you have rightly asked for. In order to make the best decisions, we have consulted with our states and public health experts to assert a standard that we feel is as “right” as possible in this complex situation. As with everything related to this pandemic, there will be circumstances in which we need to shift course and act accordingly – for example if there is a city or state-wide shut-down, we will transition to remote learning. We commit to being transparent about changes as they occur.
Q: Why are we using the weighted average of the ZIP codes our schools are in?
A: Our goal in setting criteria was to find the metric that is the best estimate of community spread for our scholars and staff. The truth is that our scholars and staff live across the borough in various ZIP codes, but we felt that taking a Brooklyn-wide or city-wide average of positivity rates is not the most accurate methodology because it would not account for the disproportionate impact of COVID on the communities we serve. That’s why we decided to take a weighted average of the ZIP codes where our schools are located as a proxy for the level of spread for our scholars and staff.
Q: Will we make a decision for all NY schools to reopen / remain remote or different decisions by campus?
A: While the data demonstrates that the level of spread is not even in the ZIP codes where our schools are located (e.g., ENY has much higher rates than Clinton Hill), we know that schools do draw from across the city. That’s why we will NOT open/close individual campuses but make a region-wide decision for all NY schools.
Q: The above are our reopening criteria…but what criteria will we use to determine whether we should switch to remote learning once we’re back in person?
A: Once we are back in school, the same criteria will be used to make decisions about transitioning to all remote learning for the region. Our assumption is that rates above 5% will put us back in the situation of constant classroom/school closures due to exposure or staffing and thus if rates rise above that level, we will return to remote learning. The reality, though, is that positivity rates can fluctuate slightly on a day-to-day basis. We are in further conversation with public health experts to determine what trends we should look for in evaluating decisions to return to remote learning (e.g., case rates above 5% for 7 days or something similar). We will share an update on our thinking on this front in the coming weeks.
Q: How will we track and monitor these rates to see how they are trending leading up to February 22?
A: We will monitor these rates regularly, update them in this tracker. In NY based on the most recent data, the positivity rate is 7.21%, 2.21% higher than our 5% threshold. Many have asked us what we think the probability is of us getting below the 5% threshold (the last time we were below that mark was in late 2020). The truth is…no one knows. All of us can offer a guess but those will just be guesses…there’s no way to know for sure.
Q: Are our buildings – especially our co-located buildings – ready to reopen?
A: Yes. Since the summer, our school operations teams have been working to ensure that our buildings meet our safety standards (spacing desks, checking that ventilation works, securing PPE and hand sanitizer stations, etc.) Additionally, DSOs have been meeting with the building councils at schools to determine how to safely operate more than one school in the same building. Our Regional Directors of Operations have signed off on building readiness for all of our campuses based on the safety thresholds we outlined earlier this school year.
Families must submit an IT ticket for ALL tech related issues. Someone from Team IT or Ops will reach out to you via email, once the ticket is received. Please check the email that you submitted for a response. Primary communication will be over email.
Student technology guides and video tutorials in both English and Spanish can be accessed via this website. Families and scholars can also use the same website to send all their tech questions by clicking the “Ask for Help” button.
Greetings AFCHES Team and Family:
Below we have attached the recording of the 01/07/21 family town hall meeting. If you were not able to attend the meeting, please take 20 minutes to review this important recording.
Also, attached is a letter from Dr. Johnson, our principal, with helpful links!
All our best,
Download the PDF to view programs we believe can provide some support for scholars:
Other Tutoring Services
B- Ready Learning : https://www.breadylearning.com/
Reimagine Tutoring: IG @reimaginetutoring
INCLUDEnyc is the leading provider of training and information for young people with any disability (age 0-26) in New York City, their families, and the professionals who support them. They create access to educational, employment, and independent living opportunities, and advocate with families for meaningful inclusion in the broader community.
The INCLUDEnyc Fair is New York City’s largest annual fair for young people with disabilities, where you can connect with summer camps, recreational programs, supports, and services from the safety and convenience of your own home.
Join the virtual INCLUDEnyc Fair on Saturday, January 30. From the safety of your own home, learn more about organizations and programs supporting young people with disabilities! Based on your preference, connect with representatives via chat, audio, or video.
Click the link above for more information on this and other workshops!
Hi AF Families,
We hope you have a safe and fun Winter Break! We look forward to hearing all about it when virtual learning resumes on January 5th, 2021.
Check out the CHES Winter Reading Challenge!! It starts tomorrow December 19th.
(You can download the document attached or use the link below to complete your own calendar)